The Dallas Cowboys are no longer a trendy Super Bowl pick.
These things typically happen when a team so thoroughly falls short of expectations in two straight years. But while those two seasons were painful studies in underachievement, they have put the team in a curiously good spot; namely, as overlooked underdogs.
The Eagles, presumably some time this summer, stepped into the role of the sexy Super Bowl pick, and justifiably so; Philly lost to Arizona in the conference championship game after drubbing them completely on Thanksgiving, and looked, throughout their playoff run, very similar to the 2007 Super Bowl champion Giants.
Since then, Philadelphia has only gotten better, drafting potential stars like Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy, picking up Ellis Hobbs in a trade and bringing in two big men to shore up the line in Stacy Andrews and Jason Peters.
But meeting lofty expectations is a tall task; no one knows that better than Dallas. And Philly's camp is drowning in lofty expectations. Per PFT, team president Joe Banner said recently to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "I feel this year we have the best roster in the league. That's assuming everyone is healthy and standing at the end. You can only make a statement like that on the first day of training camp. After that, anything can happen."
Such a statement makes Jerry's vague comments about playing up to the level of the stadium look benign; it also makes Dallas' newfound role as underdogs look downright enviable. The team crumbled under expectations last year, after a string of injuries effectively exposed every flaw on the roster. The Eagles are in a similar spot this year, only they're more injury prone as a team than Dallas.
The team's expectations, and their season for that matter, will likely go out the window if either Donovan McNabb or Brian Westbrook go down; this, as we've seen, is very possible.
A team with the level of talent that Dallas has, and only the most negligible expectations, is a dangerous one indeed, and another member of Eagles' brass has taken notice. Jeffery Lurie, the owner of those Iggles, said in his state of the team address yesterday, "I think the talent level in the NFC East is the best in football and I think the team that is probably the most underrated is the Dallas Cowboys because they entered last year with by far the most Pro Bowl players."
"Sometimes it takes an extra year to really elevate and reach that. I look back on last year and I see Felix [Jones] and Marion Barber having some injuries. You just see the potential in these teams for dominance. To me, the NFC is pretty loaded and the NFC East is the best in the NFC."